Summer reading: Passing

Book cover for Passing Passing
Nella Larsen

Passing is a short and insightful novel centering around two black women, one who passes for white in wealthy white society while the other does not by virtue of her more visibly black family. Larsen herself was a mixed-race woman who lived during the first half of the 20th century and struggled for most of her life with the fact that she couldn’t easily belong in white or black society. Passing is thoughtful and strange and, I felt, powerfully emotional in a way that leaves you thinking about the book after you’ve finished reading.

ASMAA AHMED
Class of 2020
Double major in English and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Staff appreciation: Library benefits

In honor of Staff Appreciation Week, we’d like to remind you of some of your Library benefits. As UCB staff, you can:

  • check out items, up to 100 at a time.
  • access scholarly articles, journals, and databases, both on campus and remotely.
  • take a break from your cubicle and visit the North Reading Room in Doe Library, or the cozy Morrison Library.
  • access 30,000 documentaries, classic movies, and independent films on Kanopy.
  • take a course for free on web development, photography, business management, and many other subjects on Lynda.com.
  • access the collections of other major university libraries through interlibrary loans.
  • borrow framed, original lithographs, etchings, and woodblock prints by major artists through the Graphic Arts Loan Collection.

And there’s so much more! Your Library is here for you!


Summer reading: The Sympathizer

Book cover for The SympathizerThe Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer is a fast-paced, action-packed novel that follows the path of “The Captain,” an undercover agent for the Viet Cong, who has spent years as a General’s assistant in the South Vietnamese army. His journey takes him from a life fighting on both sides of the Vietnamese conflict to a life as refugee in the United States, then back to Vietnam once again. Nguyen explores the difficult subject of the Vietnam War with masterful storytelling that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Nguyen strikes a delicate balance of telling the story of “The American War,” as the Vietnamese refer to it, from both sides of the conflict.

PETER VAHLE
Lecturer
College Writing Programs

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: So You Want to Talk About Race

Book cover of So You Want to Talk About Race So You Want to Talk About Race
Ijeoma Oluo

It’s a fantastic read because (1) she is skilled at breaking down both the overt and covert systems that have influenced difficult race conversations in this country, and because (2) it’s quite readable where other books sometimes can be too academic-feeling for some readers.

In terms of matching the theme of Between Worlds: it’s kind of on the nose. The world of white people in the USA, and the discussions of race that white people have been taught to have over the past centuries, are often extraordinarily separate from those of people of color in this country. This book is a wonderful tool for bridging those worlds.

TOREY BOOKSTEIN
College Adviser
College of Letters and Science

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Cantora

Book cover of CantoraCantora
Silvia López-Medina

Cantora is a first novel by Sylvia López-Medina about four generations of Mexican (and later, Mexican-American) women as they make their way through life on both sides of the border. It was inspired by her own family history and shows their struggle between keeping traditions and adapting to their new home in California. Each generation overcomes a different set of problems. I loved it so much that I immediately read her second book, Seguiria, and was saddened to learn that her third remains unfinished because she died in a car accident.

DELLA PERETTI
Academic Coordinator (retired)
Graduate School of Education

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Lincoln in the Bardo

Book cover of Lincoln in the BardoLincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders

The book that immediately came to mind for me when I heard this year’s theme—”Between Worlds”—was the Man Booker Prize-winning novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. The story is centered around the death of Willie Lincoln (the son of President Lincoln) and his journey through the Bardo, which is an intermediate world of sorts between death and the afterlife. I really liked this novel because it has a unique and effective format of multiple voices telling the story as well as a gripping plot that makes it very hard to put down.

I don’t usually do too much analysis when I read, but at the end of this one I found myself reflecting on how the book made me feel. It was definitely a page turner, and besides winning the aforementioned award, it has also received the Josh Chen seal of approval, a very high honor.

JOSH CHEN
Class of 2019
Chemical Engineering Major

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Construction at the Northern Regional Library Facility (NRLF)!

Please be advised that the NRLF building expansion project will commence at the end of May. The projected completion date of the fourth shelving module is fall of 2020.

Because the construction site is on the west side of the building complex, we expect minimal disruption to our daily operation. Library users will continue to have access to the reading room during our normal business hours, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except university holidays.

Noise: Construction noise should be moderate.

Traffic and Parking: All construction-related traffic to the Richmond Field Station (RFS) will be routed through an alternate access gate, so access to the RFS through the main entrance, as well as parking at NRLF, should not be affected.

Dust and Dirt: We anticipate minimal impact. The contractor will have dust control measures in place.

Security: The contractor will put up a fence that will demarcate the construction area, as well as signage in strategic places. Please be mindful and stay safe when you enter or leave NRLF or the field station.


Summer reading: Educated

Book cover for EducatedEducated
Tara Westover

This memoir is about the life of a woman growing up very secluded and closed off from society, and it covers her experience of going to college and learning about the world and how her thirst for knowledge led to her complete transformation as she moved away from her family and into the world.

JENNA JACKSON
Privileges Desk Operations
Manager Doe Library

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Daughter of Fortune

Book cover for Daughter of Fortune

Daughter of Fortune
Isabel Allende

In this novel the main character goes through a major transformation in who she is as she travels during the Gold Rush from Chile to California, which were essentially two different worlds. This is an amazing book that I have read many times and it covers an interesting time in California history from a woman’s perspective.

JENNA JACKSON
Privileges Desk Operations
Manager Doe Library

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: The Fifth Season

Book cover of The Fifth SeasonThe Fifth Season
N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, the first installment of her Broken Earth trilogy, introduces us to a world much like our own but one in which society is constructed around surviving regular tectonic cataclysms, following a woman who has been forced to hide her identity across a broken land. As the earth cracks and shifts, humanity is forced to deal with both the physical catastrophe of a volcanic-induced climate disaster and the pressure to fall back on tribalism as survival becomes a struggle. Within this foreign yet familiar setting, Jemisin explores how people are trapped by and break down racial, sexual, geographical, and psychological barriers. There are parallels with our own world–humanity facing planetary climate disasters, discrimination based on otherness, increasing tribalism. However, the unique system of magic central to the story (which also teaches geology in the vivid way only fiction can) transports the reader to a new, fantastic place and helps the audience make sense of the people and forces at work in Jemisin’s world.

DAVID SKOLNICK
Lecturer
Summer English Language Studies

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!